Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Review: SpellCast Folk Magic for the 21st Century by Luna Hare and Antony Simpson

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I am in contact with several team members at a number of different large publishers. Because of this, I am able to bring you as many book reviews as I do, especially as of late. Lately, I have been getting 2-3 books at a time, which is why there have been so many reviews lately, but I absolutely don't mind doing these sorts of posts. They are some of my most widely read posts, other than the series on hedge riding and my 10 crystals and herbs every witch should have. I believe a lot of this lies in the fact that there are so many occult books on the market, with more being added every single day. How do you decide which books to purchase and which ones to let go of? If you're like me, you don't have a ton of money to blow on witchcraft books, so making sure you are purchasing a book actually worth the money is important. So where am I going with all this today? Well, Hare and Simpson did not come to me from a big publisher. In fact, they self-published their book using Amazon, which makes my review all that more important. Authors, especially those that self-publish, have to advertise their own books, hoping that if they can go viral, their sales will offset the cost of originally writing and publishing the book. So needless to say when they reached out to me about a book review, I was happy to oblige.

SpellCast: Folk Magic for the 21st Century by Luna Hare and Antony Simpson is first and foremost a spellbook. It contains no introductory information, just tried and true spells that have proven effective by the authors. Both Hare and Simpson have been practicing for the better part of their lives, making them experts in the field of spell casting. They include everything from basic spells, charms, talismans, and oils covering a variety of topics including protection, banishment, love, fertility, death, cleansing, and so much more. The spells are easily laid out by type with simple yet easy directions. Most of the spells require little to no ingredients and most of the ingredients are easy to find or cheap. However, they do use a lot of essential oils, which can be easily substituted with an infusion if needed. I personally don't have a bunch of essential oils. The two I have came with my Apothecary At Home subscription box so working some of these spells as they are written is nearly impossible without purchasing expensive essential oils. However, Hare and Simpson encourage their readers to make the spells their own and offer a list of correspondences at the end of each chapter so you can make substitutions as needed. When in doubt, dried versions of the herbs, herb-infused oils, or herbal teas work in place of essential oils.

Each section is introduced by beautiful poetry, which is a spell in and of itself. The printed text font is large and easy to read although there are a couple of errors, likely due to the fact that they did not have a large editorial team like a large publishing company. The format is easy and simple, making it a breeze to skim through and find what you are looking for. The index is a little wonky, likely from the fact that software put it together, but you can still find what you are looking for nonetheless. Some sections are longer than others, such as the section on protection or chants. The Death section only contains one spell, which was disappointing to me, but it's a great spell to have in times of mourning and is more extensive than some of the other spells in the book. Throughout the book, Hare and Simpson offer sound advice, especially in the chapter on finance and money. Their "rules" include only asking for what you need, not using the phrase "harm none" in your spells, and being specific in your requests. This is some of the best advice I've seen in a book about spells in a long time. It was a nice change from the typical Wiccan spellbook. 

However, there were a couple things I did not like about the book, other than how short the section on death was. First, there is a spell that calls for painting a rock and throwing it into a stream to get a job. Be mindful of the type of paint you use as many of them contain toxic chemicals which will anger the river spirits. They do mention chakras in the book and cleansing them, which is a Hindu practice and therefore closed. Finally, there is a very fat-phobic spell for weight loss that simply reads "Eat less, move more. Padlock the fridge and hide the car keys." In this day and age, I expected a little more tact. I crossed out the spell in black Sharpie and sent that negativity right on out the door. I was thrilled with the rest of the book, but that spell left a sour taste in my mouth. It's not a reason not to purchase the book, whether in print or the Kindle version, but I suggest ignoring that spell altogether.

Overall, if you are looking for a non-Wiccan book of spells, Hare and Simpson are here to provide. SpellCast: Folk Magic for the 21st Century is a great little addition to any witch's bookshelf, whether you are new to witchcraft or not. When in doubt, they offer an amazing array of spells you can build your own from. SpellCast is available now on Amazon in both a print and Kindle version or get a signed copy directly from them!

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Use of Linden

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter, Mercury, Sun
Element: Air
Powers: Divination, Justice, Love, Protection, Wisdom
Magical Uses and History: Linden, also referred to as the Lime Tree, is one of the most magical trees in the world, especially among Slavic traditions. However, to understand the full history of the linden we have to go back to Ancient Greece. There are two myths that include the linden tree, the first being the story of the nymph Philyra. Philyra was seduced by Cronos while he was shapeshifted into a horse and later gave birth to the centaur Chiron. After Chiron's birth, Philyra, upset that she had given birth to a monster, asked the gods to transform her into a linden tree, for which they obliged. Chiron grew up in the shade of the linden tree where his mother taught him wisdom and compassion. Chiron was so renowned for his wisdom that nobles sent their sons to be educated by him, where he taught under the linden tree. As such, the linden tree became known as a symbol of love, compassion, and wisdom. In the second Greek myth, Philemon and Baucis, a classical couple married by Zeus, were allowed to die at the same time so they wouldn't be parted. Philemon's body metamorphosed into an oak tree, the symbol of hospitality, while Baucis's body turned into a linden tree, thus symbolizing love, beauty, and grace, characteristics prized in a wife. As such, the linden tree can be used in love spells, marriage spells, and to bring wisdom.

Herodot later mentions that Scythian soothsayers used linden leaves to obtain inspiration and foretell the future, while the Enarei people used linden bark for divination. Either way, the linden tree can be used for divination, especially divination pertaining to love.

The Greek myths carried over into Roman mythology, where the linden tree was associated with both Venus (love) and Junona (wisdom). Young couples would decorate their home and altars with boughs of linden flowers to promote wisdom and long-lasting love. The poet Ovidiu recorded young women wearing crowns of linden flowers to honor fertility goddesses, but which exactly is unknown.

In pre-Christian Germanic mythology, the linden tree was associated with Freya, the goddess of life, torture, fertility, love, and truth, all characteristics associated with the linden tree. It was said that lightning would not strike a linden tree because of Freya's marriage to Odin. Linden trees were commonly planted in the town square or another central location and later near churches to act as the center. It was under the linden tree that tribal judgment was made, marriages were conducted, and celebrations held. Thus, the linden became associated with justice and peace and this practice of passing judgment lasted well into the Enlightenment period, and was often referred to as "under Tilia."  Because of this, the linden is perfect for spells pertaining to justice, peace, and other court matters.

Even after towns stopped using the linden as a tree of judgment, marriages were still often conducted under them. It was the sacred tree of lovers and fertility. In the shade of its branches, lovers would swear their eternal love to one another. According to French folklore, a marriage vow made under a linden tree would never fall apart. In Germanic folklore, this symbolism is immortalized in the poem Under der linden by Walter von der Vogelweide which tells the story of a maid and a knight who fall in love under a linden tree.

The tree is so scared to Slavic cultures that there are a number of towns named after the tree, including "Swieta Lipka" meaning "the Holy Linden Tree." It is a national emblem of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In Croatia, the month of June is named after the linden tree (Lipanj) whereas in Poland it's the month of July that bears the linden tree's name (Lipiec). In Poland, the linden tree was believed to have protective properties from both lightning (being associated with Freya), evil spirits, and baneful magic. Linden trees were planted outside of houses to protect against such ill tidings. The tree eventually made its way into Christian customs where it was believed to prevent temptation and sin. Prayers made under the linden tree were said to be more likely to be listened to because the linden was the tree of the Virgin Mary. Shrines to Mary were decorated with linden boughs, their soft nature being associated with love, protection, and peace. In Estonia and Lithuania, women would bring offerings to the linden tree to grant them fertility, while in many Polish villages, figures of the Virgin Mary were placed in the trunk of a linden tree to aid a woman in childbirth. It later became a Polish custom of the nobility to plant a linden tree after the birth of a firstborn or major wedding and named after the person the tree was meant to protect. Use linden branches and flowers to protect your home, ward away evil spirits, and bring peace to the home. Placed in the bedroom, it can promote fertility and fidelity while ensuring a lasting marriage. 

This only scratches the surface of the uses of the linden tree and some of the folklore and myths of the linden tree. There is so much more than what was covered in this post.

Linden can be used in a number of spells including:
    Love Spells
    Fertility Rites
    Marriage Spells
    Clearing Ritual Baths
    Protection Magic

Medicinal Uses: The flowers of the linden tree act as an antispasmodic, diaphoretic, mild sedative, and nerve tonic. It is often used to treat colds, fever, anxiety, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. When mixed with lavender or passionflower, it encourages relaxation and promotes healthy sleep. Linden flowers are generally safe for both children and adults but can cause hay fever in those allergic to pollen.

Preparation and Dosage: Linden flowers are usually taken as an infusion but can also be used in a tincture when treating anxiety. To make an infusion combine 2-3 teaspoons (2-10 oz) of dried flowers with one cup boiling water and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Take three times a day. Linden tea can be mixed with apple juice to cut the flavor. Combines well with elderflower, passionflower, and lavender. To relieve sinus pressure, combine 2 tablespoons of dried linden flower with 2 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and inhale the steam. For a tincture, take 1-2 milliliters up to three times a day.

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! This Herbarium copy contains two pages and includes a recipe from Gather Victoria to make Semolina Sun Cake with Linden Blossom Syrup!

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Friday, April 2, 2021

Magical Properties of Sodalite

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